Elective: History of Western Music - Music 10

History of Western Music – Music 10

This module focuses on the relationship between music history and Western history. By understanding the similarities and differences between the musical communities of the past and those of the present, students develop a better understanding of their own musical heritage.

To complete this module, you need to complete two tasks: A Timeline of Western Music and Listening to History.

A Timeline of Western Music

1. Create a timeline with the following 6 periods of Western music on it: Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Twentieth Century. You will need to do research to find the approximate dates for each period.

2. For each time period, list 3 significant world history events that shaped and defined that time period.

3. Include a bibliography with all the websites, books and other reference materials you used.

Listening to History

1. Click on this links below to access a recording from each of the 6 periods of Western Music.

Time Period Composer Title
Medieval Hildegard von Bingen Quia felix pueritia
Renaissance Tomas Luis de Victoria O magnum mysterium
Baroque Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No. 1, Movement 1: Prelude
Classical Franz Joseph Haydn Symphony No. 88, Mvt 4: Allegro con spirito
Romantic Hector Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, Mvt 4: March to the Scaffold
20th Century Gustav Holst The Planets, Movement 1: Mars, the Bringer of War

2. For each piece of music, write one sentence that comments on each of the following elements of music. Describe how each element is presented and use the questions that are provided to help guide your listening. The elements of music are:

  • Melody – What is the main line of the song? Is it simple or complicated? Fast or slow? Smooth or choppy? Easy to sing along with or confusing? Are there large jumps in the melodic line?
  • Rhythm – What are the rhythms? Are they slow and long notes? Are the rhythms fast? Does the song have a slow or fast tempo? Are there rests or is there constant sound?
  • Timbre – What instruments & voices are used? What is the sound quality like? Sweet or aggressive? Dark or bright? Are there extreme highs and lows?
  • Dynamics – What is the overall level of sound (forte, piano, crescendo, etc.)? Does it change? How often?
  • Style – What is the overall effect of the piece? Does it have a feeling? Does it remind you of something? What things make this piece distinctive and memorable?

Example:  The national anthem of Canada – “O Canada”

Element of Music

My description


The melody is simple and easy to sing. It has a smooth shape and the notes are close together with no large jumps or skips.


The rhythms are slow and the tempo could be Moderato or Andante. There are few rests, but a lot of long held notes.


There is a voice playing and the accompaniment is a piano. The overall tone quality is calm and there are no extreme sound qualities.


The dynamic level is a medium mezzo forte. There are hardly any dynamic changes.


The style is patriotic and proud. The melodic line is very clear and easily recognizable. It is intended to be symbolic of “Canada” and remind all listeners of the country.